March 15, 2020
During this unprecedented public health crisis, the executive team and teaching staff at Toddle Towne Learning Centers are concentrating all of our efforts on these two critical goals:
- To continue to provide a safe, healthy environment for our children and staff
- To continue operating for as long as possible without compromising the health and safety of our students, families, and staff
Fulfilling these goals will require that we all work together as a team and recognizing that in some cases the needs of the group will outweigh the needs of the individual. It will require that we all — staff, and each one of our families — go above and beyond to do what is right for the protection of everyone, that we put the good of all ahead of our own personal wishes. We will all need to put our heads down and power through some rough times ahead for the good of the children, recognizing that by the time we come through this we will all be asked to make sacrifices and deal with consequences, not of our own making.
In order to accomplish our first goal of continuing to provide a safe, healthy environment for our staff and children we will both continue to enforce our current procedures and add some new ones.
- All staff will receive immediate additional sanitation training
- Signs with policies and procedures for good sanitation have been placed in every room of the center for constant review by staff and families
- All staff will be monitored and held to the highest standard of sanitation
- Staff will participate in daily health checks to ensure that children who are ill do not attend and children in attendance who show signs of illness are immediately sent home
- All staff will look for opportunities to limit room changes and look for ways to encourage social distancing
- Staff will receive updates on all current information regarding the COVID-19 crisis as it becomes available from the CDC and Department of Public Health
- Parents will be asked to maintain the highest standard of sanitation at home
- Children and the adult dropping them off will be required to have a temperature scan conducted by a staff member just inside the main entrance and if either have a temperature of 100.4 or higher both will be required to leave immediately
- Temperature scans will also be conducted on children after nap time to identify any children whose fevers were artificially reduced by the use of fever-reducing medications
- All adults should inform staff immediately about any travel, possible COVID-19 exposure or symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath for anyone residing in the household
- Everyone will be required to wash hands using proper procedures immediately upon entering the center
- Parents should attempt to limit the number of adults coming into the center by having the same person drop off and pick up whenever possible
- Parents should consider alterative care for any child who already has a compromised immune system or underlying health issue
- No new student tours will be given between now and April to limit the number of people entering the building
Our second goal is continuing to operate for as long as possible without compromising the health and safety of our students, families, and staff. A number of situations could keep us from meeting this goal such as:
- A state-ordered closure, primary exposure to COVID-19
- An inability to purchase the food and supplies required for operation
- The inability to provide safe care or inadequate staff to meet state-mandated ratios.
A state-ordered closure is completely out of our control and would be carried out on a timeline dictated by state officials. A primary exposure would be if a child, parent or staff member with COVID-19 were to enter the building and again this would require a closure that would be completely out of our control and carried out on a timeline dictated by state officials. The inability to provide safe care could arise from an inability to obtain the chemicals needed to properly sanitize the environment but we buy in bulk and always have a month’s supply on hand and we will immediately attempt to increase our stock on hand. At any given time we keep non-perishable food and supplies on hand for about a month of operation so the main concern would be perishable items such as bread, milk and fresh produce. We can use non-perishable items to substitute for both bread and fresh produce, but we are required by the state of Illinois to provide fluid milk to the children every day. This is especially concerning as many stores are limiting the number you can purchase of any item. In large part, this will also be out of our control, although we will immediately look into alternate vendors for milk. The last and most likely reason for closure would be an inadequate number of staff members to meet state-mandated ratios. All of our staff members are at the same risk as anyone else of being exposed to COVID-19 and having to be placed on a 14-day leave and in addition they all have families and lives that they are trying to navigate through this crisis. The staff at TTLC is very dedicated but it would be naïve to think that none of them may be put in the position to miss any work during this crisis, putting an even greater strain on maintaining the state-mandated ratios The state of Illinois, to date, has chosen not to relax or modify any of the rules and regulations or grant any exemptions for licensed child care centers as they have for public schools, primary elections, etc. so we are faced with huge challenges and it will require the help of families and staff members if we have any hope of overcoming them to remain open.
Since staffing will be our biggest challenge, we need to control the number of children that we can care for in order to remain open.
- We will not accept any new enrollments between now and April
- We will immediately reach out to all part-time and seasonal employees to try to increase the number of staff we have available and thereby provide care to as many of our families as possible
- Parents who have care alternatives should consider using them to free up space for families with no alternatives
- All children that are currently enrolled may continue to come on their regularly scheduled days/times
- Any additional days/times will be on an “as space/staff is available” basis, this includes children who normally come before and after school, there may not be space/staff available for them to stay all day
- School-age children who are out because of the public school closing will only be allowed to attend on an “as space/staff is available” basis with priority given to the children of first-responders and medical professionals and only if they are currently enrolled in either our before and after school program or our Dynamite Day Camp summer program
- We will not be able to allow public school children access to electronics or to the internet and we will not be able to supervise schoolwork/homework
- Parents should limit their use of child care to essential tasks like work, should bring the children for only the hours that are absolutely necessary and ensure that they are picked up as early as possible
This situation is evolving at a very rapid pace and it is impossible to know how long it will go on or how difficult things will get. In order to meet our stated goals, there are many options and contingencies under consideration. We suggest your family also determine a “Plan B” for alternate care in the event the state intervenes and forces our closure.
Going forward please make sure to monitor our Facebook page, website and children’s cubbies for the release of new information. If you have questions about our plan or the availability of care please feel free to contact your center director by phone or email.
East Alton-Pam Schwarberg